The Oxford English dictionary has announced that the word Hangry, amongst others, has made the cut for this quarter. This announcement comes as new research reveals just how people can suffer from becoming bad tempered or irritable as a result of hunger. Research has shown that people who make decisions on an empty stomach are nearly twice as likely to make the wrong one compared to people who have eaten.
In clinical trials, 62 per cent of adults got more decisions wrong when they were hungry than when they were not.
Less than a third (27 per cent) of participants who had gone for at least four hours without food managed to find the correct solution to a problem.
But after eating a well-balanced meal, nearly half (48 per cent) were able to make the right decision, according to researchers.
The study, commissioned by malt loaf makers Soreen, backs up claims that low levels of blood sugar can cause the most rational people to lose their ability to think clearly, and make impulsive and sometimes risky decisions.
The research also found that hunger pangs can significantly increase feelings of irritation and anger, which can also adversely affect concentration.
In the Soreen study hungry participants were found to have a much lower tolerance to everyday irritations, such as the sound of a mobile phone ringing, baby crying or someone repeatedly sniffing.
However, a well-balanced snack of substance was enough to decrease participants' irritation levels by as much as 40 per cent, the research found.
Food psychologist, Dr Christy Fergusson, who conducted the trials, explained:
"We all know it takes brain power to make important decisions, so it makes sense that to think clearly we need to keep our brain fuelled. Glucose is virtually the only fuel source for your brain (except during prolonged starvation).
“But what many people don’t realise is their brain can’t store glucose. This means that regardless of how much you eat, four hours later your brain will need a fresh supply of fuel to keep it running smoothly.
“As this research proves, if we haven’t eaten for four hours our poor brains can really struggle to make decisions. But that’s not all. This drop in our blood glucose levels not only affects our ability to think straight, it also sky-rockets our irritation levels.”
For the study, male and female participants aged 17 to 70 were given five minutes to complete ten brain-teasers, first while feeling hungry and then after eating a filling snack.
An everyday noise was also played loudly during the exercise, and participants' irritation levels and heart rates were recorded.
Women were found to get more irritated by the sound of a mobile phone ringing, while men were more bothered by repeated sniffing and a crying baby.
Results showed that participants who had gone for at least four hours without eating were much less competent at answering the brain teasers.
But when they were no longer hungry, their performance improved by 20 per cent on average, the study found.
Only 129 out of 480 questions were answered correctly while participants were hungry - compared to 231 questions whilst not hungry.
Women were found to respond best on a fuller stomach, with a 30 per cent improvement in their ability to make decisions after satisfying their hunger with a well-balanced snack.
The heart rates of participants were also slightly higher when they were hungry, which can be linked to stress and anxiety.
Dr Christy Ferguson continues:
“To avoid a hungry rage you should enjoy a snack of substance that will replenish your glucose stores and keep your brain fuelled.
“Something like a slice of malt loaf, which has as little as 95 calories and is low in saturated fat, is a great alternative to reaching for a bag of crisps or sweets.”
This latest study follows research which found that low blood sugar levels caused by missing meals may be linked to marital arguments.
The research, by Ohio State University and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, showed that skipping meals coincided with higher levels of anger.
Academics advised couples on the verge of a row to pause and eat a sugary snack.
TOP TEN THINGS YOU SHOULDN'T DO WHEN YOU ARE HANGRY:
1. Make an important decision - you're twice as likely to get it wrong.
2. Go food shopping - you'll buy much more than you really need.
3. Argue with your partner - it will get ugly, quickly.
4. Go for an interview - you won't make a good impression, you'll just seem distracted.
5. Gamble - studies have found that people who are hungry are more likely to take risks with their money.
6. Get into a traffic jam - your normal patient resignation will quickly evaporate.
7. Dish out punishment - whether it's grounding your son or deciding on whether to sack your employee, don't do it. In studies judges who had missed meals handed out tougher sentences.
8. Call customer services - being kept on hold or arguing with call centre staff is already Britain's No1 stressful thing.
9. Do something dangerous - studies have found that hunger affects people's fight or flight response, causing us to be less safety-conscious.
10. Be around someone who is eating - your low sugar level blood will boil.